[this rant is not directed at anyone in particular]
i take issue with "losing to win later" - not just on its strategic merits* but for the fans, for the children!
let me try to justify that. who wants to watch a game if you are not rooting for a win, no ifs ands or buts. who wants to take their kids to see a game and say "this team is cleverly designed to lose for the time being - after analyzing the way teams rise and fall in the NBA, we think the increased odds of getting an as-yet-undetermined college player is our best chance to win a championship"**. what kind of lesson does this teach your kid? what would vince lombardi say?
i also take issue with the idea that the only worthwhile accomplishment is a championship. by analogy, i have loved watching the eagles for 2 decades despite the lack of a trophy - based more on the "any given sunday" possibility of a tough and competitive team beating on the cowboys, giants, skins, etc., and on the pride of knowing that that opponent does not want to face your team. to me, you root for the title but a competitive team is worth watching. ok, this is not the nfl - well, i was also a fan of the gritty but flawed '01 sixers who stole game 1 from the lakers.
for long-term strategy i am in favor of striving to win as much as possible year-in, year-out. and of hiring tough coaches, smart GMs, and good scouting (you pay up for people with a track record). and none of these top people are going to want to come to a team that is planning on missing the playoffs over a 1-4 (?) year rebuilding program. it all costs money of course, but so do all the empty seats when the team stinks. granted that the spending/attendance issue is a chicken-and-egg problem (shrug) - seems like so is winning in the NBA in general.
my optimistic scenario is if the sixers could sneak their way up to a 45-50 win season in the next few years while keeping their best talent in place, then free agents might actually want to come and plant their flag here (and as they get older their price comes down, if you're a winning team).
in sum, i think to break down the team and gamble on the draft sacrifices on too many levels and does not necessarily pan out in the long-term.
* there's a statistical study to be done on the efficacy of losing to win in the nba. i am philosophically opposed but i make no claims about strategic optimality since i don't know what that study would say.
** this is not to mention that you can put up with watching the worst team for a whole year, and easily get the #2 pick or worse, which may be a bust or a far cry from the #1 player that year. OR, you can hit the jackpot and you get a lebron-type player. then you can watch an exhilarating turnaround of the franchise, until said player opts out of your turnaround plan, dumps on your entire city, and teams up in a bigger market with other all-stars. or your #1 pick (call him oden) gets injured year after year.